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A conflict between goals of the world and goals of meditation: Identity

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A conflict between goals of the world and goals of meditation: Identity Rich - 7/31/11 9:26 AM
RE: A conflict between goals of the world and goals of meditation: Identity Tommy M 7/31/11 3:52 PM
RE: A conflict between goals of the world and goals of meditation: Identity Rich - 8/1/11 4:31 PM
RE: A conflict between goals of the world and goals of meditation: Identity Tommy M 8/1/11 5:28 PM
RE: A conflict between goals of the world and goals of meditation: Identity Rich - 8/2/11 4:18 AM
RE: A conflict between goals of the world and goals of meditation: Identity This Good Self 7/31/11 6:50 PM
RE: A conflict between goals of the world and goals of meditation: Identity Tommy M 7/31/11 6:57 PM
RE: A conflict between goals of the world and goals of meditation: Identity This Good Self 7/31/11 8:37 PM
RE: A conflict between goals of the world and goals of meditation: Identity Tommy M 8/1/11 11:53 AM
RE: A conflict between goals of the world and goals of meditation: Identity Nikolai . 8/1/11 7:45 AM
RE: A conflict between goals of the world and goals of meditation: Identity Tommy M 8/1/11 11:51 AM
RE: A conflict between goals of the world and goals of meditation: Identity Bruno Loff 8/1/11 7:34 AM
RE: A conflict between goals of the world and goals of meditation: Identity Rich - 8/1/11 4:42 PM
RE: A conflict between goals of the world and goals of meditation: Identity This Good Self 8/2/11 3:47 AM
RE: A conflict between goals of the world and goals of meditation: Identity Rich - 8/2/11 4:34 AM
RE: A conflict between goals of the world and goals of meditation: Identity This Good Self 8/2/11 5:11 AM
RE: A conflict between goals of the world and goals of meditation: Identity Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem 8/2/11 9:06 AM
RE: A conflict between goals of the world and goals of meditation: Identity Matt L 8/2/11 9:16 AM
RE: A conflict between goals of the world and goals of meditation: Identity Bruno Loff 8/2/11 5:22 AM
I'm traversing territory that I haven't read much about when I write this, so what I'm about to say is made up of a mixture of speculation and my own experience... there's probably a little more speculation and a little less actual experience which means I'm sort of guessing in places and therefore I'm likely to be wrong about a few things. But that's why I'm posting... I need clarifcation on this.

It seems to me that one of the primary goals, or at least steps on the path, of insight is the "destruction" of identity.

From what I can tell identity is a collection of experiences... mental images, certain flavours of feeling like "mine" which attach to things. It seems actually that there's more than one type of identity which arises in consciousness... for example sometimes you feel really cool and you have cool images and this sense of "coolness" which is "me"... and other times you have the sense of being a dork and a sense of "dorkiness" which is "me".

What I've found when meditating is that, just by following the technique of noting and abstracting naturally, that these identities start to break down somewhat (not massively for me, but certainly they start to shake... like someone hitting a brick wall with a wooden hammer... the wall doesn't collapse but it shakes and bits of concrete start to break off and splinter...). I find thisw process results in a sense of loss... increased pain (physically and emotionally) and all that stuff. Maybe it's "dark night"ish, I don't know, I don't know the maps enough to say. On the advice of Tommy I'm going to start a practice diary asap and hopefully get an idea of where the hell I am.

But to get back to the point... after these sorts of sessions where I "attack" my identity... I come "off the cushion" feeling terrible. I feel lost... alone... weak etc... actually the real world becomes seriously more challenging.

On the other hand... if I actively build up feelings of ego in myself (which anyone can do, even non meditators) then it helps my real world performance. For example if I go "Yeah, I am damn good at this shit, I'm going to go in and nail it." and I see this picture of myself which I identify with being skilled at something (for example public speaking, which I do a fair ammount) then I go in, give a good performance, and nail it.

If I were to apply meditative technique to that above paragraph I shudder to think of the consequences in "real life" terms.

So this is where I'm caught in this identity paradox. It seems like for the world of morality... identity is a strength and an asset. Whereas the path attacks this very thing which helps us in the real world...

What is going on here? Where is the balance? Etc....

Hey Rich, going by what you've said in your post here I'd say that you are currently in Dark Night territory. I know you said before that you weren't sure about that as you didn't recognize a distinct A&P experience prior to feeling like this but what you're saying definitely sounds Dark Night-esque. Reading through this post, you're also demonstrating great insights into the way things are so you're definitely doing this right, and remember what I said before about how stuff like this is actually, as perverse as it may seem, a sign of progress along the path.

What's your day-to-day experience like just now?

From what I can tell identity is a collection of experiences... mental images, certain flavours of feeling like "mine" which attach to things. It seems actually that there's more than one type of identity which arises in consciousness... for example sometimes you feel really cool and you have cool images and this sense of "coolness" which is "me"... and other times you have the sense of being a dork and a sense of "dorkiness" which is "me".

So, if there's more than one type of identity (i.e. self) arising, what does that tell you about the entire sense of self?

What I've found when meditating is that, just by following the technique of noting and abstracting naturally, that these identities start to break down somewhat (not massively for me, but certainly they start to shake... like someone hitting a brick wall with a wooden hammer... the wall doesn't collapse but it shakes and bits of concrete start to break off and splinter...). I find thisw process results in a sense of loss... increased pain (physically and emotionally) and all that stuff. Maybe it's "dark night"ish, I don't know.

You're probably now in Dark Night. The way the sense of identity begins to break down, not like a sense of shattering, more like things are disintegrating, is what happens in the stage immediately after the A&P. This is the 5th ├▒ana, Knowledge of Dissolution, which is the entrance to DN territory. From here, the best thing to do is keep practicing, I'd even recommend bringing noting into your daily life as it's a fantastic way to refine your technique and speed up the process.

What's perhaps confusing is that you didn't notice a distinct A&P event, but this isn't out of the ordinary. I've gone through A&P's in my sleep, and ones which had little more than a change in focus, but the fact of the matter is that once you've passed this you will end up in Dark Night. The upside of this is that, in my experience, by continuing your practice, regardless of where you think you are on the maps, you'll learn to pay closer attention to the subtle sensations and learn to navigate this territory much quicker.

But to get back to the point... after these sorts of sessions where I "attack" my identity... I come "off the cushion" feeling terrible. I feel lost... alone... weak etc... actually the real world becomes seriously more challenging.

This is par for the course, do you also notice the sense of fear when there's nothing to be afraid of? Bingo. That's the self starting to loose it's foothold. Look at what's lost, alone, weak etc.

If I were to apply meditative technique to that above paragraph I shudder to think of the consequences in "real life" terms.

Would you mind explaining this a bit more? I can't see how applying insight meditation to the self-programming of "positive thinking" would be anything but beneficial.

So this is where I'm caught in this identity paradox. It seems like for the world of morality... identity is a strength and an asset. Whereas the path attacks this very thing which helps us in the real world

No, it doesn't!! You're misunderstanding something about this whole thing which will bring you nothing but suffering, all you're doing right now by thinking this way is setting up obstacles to progress.

What is that you believe is happening with the process of "enlightenment"?
What is this "very thing which helps us in the real world"?
Who told you "identity is a strength"?

How does having an identity help you? You said yourself, identity is nothing more than a bunch of experiences (sensations would be more accurate) and that a number of identities appear throughout the day. Does this mean than any one of these identities, those hollow masks of personality, are any more important or special than any other?

Vipassana does not destroy the identity, it shows you something very, very interesting about it which needs to be experienced to be understood.

What is it that you want from meditative practice? Honestly.

Rich, there is no balance. Either you pump yourself up or destroy yourself. The former feels good and comfortable, the latter is agonizing. A heck of a lot of people on here pretend that self-destruction is readily attainable without too much fuss or bother, just look at the threads on AF or direct pointing. There's a lot of wordsmiths and scholars in here - have they ever looked death in the face? Extremely unlikely.

Everything that you are - you want to destroy that?? If you do, then at least know what it is you're in for: a heck of a lot more pain, suffering, existential terror...then a breakthrough (if you don't suicide or go insane in the process).

Why does public speaking feel so good when you nail it? Because you have hundreds of people paying you attention, thereby validating your sense of self. Have you ever forgotten your lines, stumbled, tripped over or said something totally stupid in front of hundreds? Humiliated much? That's the self being shrunk.

RE: A conflict between goals of the world and goals of meditation: Identity
Answer
7/31/11 6:57 PM as a reply to This Good Self.
That's just complete bullshit, what was the point of this little display then CCC? Another poor attempt at trolling?

^^ case in point. Tommy felt that my post belittled his sense of self, so he desperately tries to bolster it. A perfect example.

RE: A conflict between goals of the world and goals of meditation: Identity
Answer
8/1/11 11:53 AM as a reply to This Good Self.
[Response removed - Irrelevant to the OP's questions.]
emoticon

RE: A conflict between goals of the world and goals of meditation: Identity
Answer
8/1/11 7:34 AM as a reply to This Good Self.
CCC you have been repeating all these theories ever since your first post here. It's been over a year.

Within nine month's time of having read my first book on meditation, I was to gain stream entry and never be depressed again (one year and eight months, and counting).

Since then I have experienced the awesome and the weird, I have looked fear in the eye, I have become my own best friend, and my life keeps getting better every day, in ways I could have never imagined. The adventure of a lifetime!

What did buying into your own propaganda ever do for you? Are your theories really that valuable? Are they really worth your time? Are they actually "pumping you up" or are they rather "putting you down"? Are you stuck in a strange loop? Make sure you're not holding into these theories without doing some reality testing.

Tommy M:
Ha! Aye, that's exactly what happened.....twat.


Dismantle (renounce) AAAAAALL the blocks to being 24/7 happy and harmless, you crazy scot.

RE: A conflict between goals of the world and goals of meditation: Identity
Answer
8/1/11 11:51 AM as a reply to Nikolai ..
you crazy scot.

How dare you bring up my national identi.....oh....wait...Ha!

Point taken. emoticon

There's a lot of useful info here again but I am still not sure about my main concern.

I can accept that in the end, when everything has been done on the path, that the old association with sensory experience - identity - can be clearly identified as a source of suffering. I can accept that because I've read so many books and accounts of it.

However what I am saying is that right now, while I'm still struggling... what happens when I note and examine heavily this identity and attempt to be free from it is that it starts to hurt and do messed up things and I start to want to avoid all social contact. It's all well and good if it's just an hour sit at home, but if I apply noting in my real life a similiar thing happens... I become resistant towards people and start to want to avoid any kind of social challenge. If what I'm experienceing when I do that is what the old monks and what-not did then I can completely understand why they went off into the mountains on their own.

But for me that is not possible right now, and will not be for some time. I have commitments in the real world and I know that Daniel warns about this very point in MCTB, that it's important to make sure you don't screw up your real life while you're pursueing your spiritual growth.

So given what I've just said, is your advice still that I should infact begin to apply noting in the real-world as well as on the cushion?

RE: A conflict between goals of the world and goals of meditation: Identity
Answer
8/1/11 4:42 PM as a reply to This Good Self.
C C C:
Rich, there is no balance. Either you pump yourself up or destroy yourself. The former feels good and comfortable, the latter is agonizing. A heck of a lot of people on here pretend that self-destruction is readily attainable without too much fuss or bother, just look at the threads on AF or direct pointing. There's a lot of wordsmiths and scholars in here - have they ever looked death in the face? Extremely unlikely.

Everything that you are - you want to destroy that?? If you do, then at least know what it is you're in for: a heck of a lot more pain, suffering, existential terror...then a breakthrough (if you don't suicide or go insane in the process).

Why does public speaking feel so good when you nail it? Because you have hundreds of people paying you attention, thereby validating your sense of self. Have you ever forgotten your lines, stumbled, tripped over or said something totally stupid in front of hundreds? Humiliated much? That's the self being shrunk.


I am not so sure about all this. I know people who are immune from humiliation but seem to have a massive self-image. On the other hand I know people who are very shy but still seem to have a massive self-image. I get to experience these things quite closely because I'm a teacher.

I do not think that humiliation is "the self being shrunk" either. I think it's just another sensory phenomenon (much like pride, anger, hate, jealously, love, etc) resulting from evolution in order to best ensure survival in an ancient homo-sapien environment.

I have not heard anything about these prolific suicides you are infering to. Do you have official figures/proof to back that up?

I think I may see where you're difficulties are coming from here, I totally understand how you're feeling so I'll try to explain this a bit better and give you a few examples from my own practice.

However what I am saying is that right now, while I'm still struggling... what happens when I note and examine heavily this identity and attempt to be free from it is that it starts to hurt and do messed up things and I start to want to avoid all social contact.

First of all, you're not trying to be free from the social identity, the persona you project to the world, or anything like that when you're doing vipassana. Insight meditation is just a process of identifying and disembedding from phenomena as it appears in awareness, that's all it is and there's no need to make it any more complicated than that. Dismantling the identity is part of the Actual Freedom practice so, unless you decide that an actual freedom from the human condition is what you're looking for, drop this practice immediately and get back to basics.

Do not try to deal with your psychological shit while meditating! This is not what you're looking at, if you're doing vipassana then you note sensations as they arise e.g. seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching etc etc. That's it.

It's all well and good if it's just an hour sit at home, but if I apply noting in my real life a similiar thing happens... I become resistant towards people and start to want to avoid any kind of social challenge. If what I'm experienceing when I do that is what the old monks and what-not did then I can completely understand why they went off into the mountains on their own.


Part of the way you feel right now is down to being in Dark Night territory. Everything you're saying is likely to be familiar to every yogi on here, we've all been through times like these and, although this doesn't make it easier while it's happening, please remember that you've got access to a group of serious, pragmatic practitioners who could probably provide enough advice to enable you to push onwards with this.

When noting, to use your description above as an example, if you're out and about then notice you're feeling resistance towards people then just note "resistance", if you notice that you feel you want to avoid a social challenge then note "avoiding" - You do not need to examine the sensation any closer than this, you acknowledge it happening and continue as you were. You're seeing that every single sensation is the same, each one arises and passes and is not you.

I know this probably sounds like shit advice right now, especially when you're in DN, but I guarantee you that by getting back to basics with your practice, realizing what insight meditation is actually about and resolving to keep your psychological shite to yourself and not doing anything stupid like leaving your job (done that), then you will get through this.

But for me that is not possible right now, and will not be for some time. I have commitments in the real world and I know that Daniel warns about this very point in MCTB, that it's important to make sure you don't screw up your real life while you're pursueing your spiritual growth.

YOU DO NOT NEED TO LEAVE THE REAL WORLD AND MOVE TO A CAVE Is that clear enough?

Look, here's my situation - I've got a mortgage, a kid, a partner, a job, bills, and clinical depression. I got 4th path earlier this year. If you don't feel able to cope with the difficult parts of the path then there's no reason to feel bad about stopping for a while. However, what I will say is that these same Dark Night symptoms continue whether you're meditating or not, and continued precise, committed practice will make them go away a whole lot faster.

It's entirely up to you so I'd recommend going away to think about what you want from this. If you want to take a break then do so, this will always be here for you and you may feel better equipped at some other point in life to deal with the potential difficulties involved with it. If you choose to continue then get some advice on how to better your practice and improve you technique.

How are you doing this practice stuff right now, give us an example of how a sitting goes for you, what sort of stuff you're noting and whatever else happens during that time. I think you might be overcomplicating this a bit but I think you'll get the advice you need here.

Take care of y'erself. emoticon

Rich N:


I am not so sure about all this. I know people who are immune from humiliation but seem to have a massive self-image. On the other hand I know people who are very shy but still seem to have a massive self-image. I get to experience these things quite closely because I'm a teacher.

I do not think that humiliation is "the self being shrunk" either. I think it's just another sensory phenomenon (much like pride, anger, hate, jealously, love, etc) resulting from evolution in order to best ensure survival in an ancient homo-sapien environment.

I have not heard anything about these prolific suicides you are infering to. Do you have official figures/proof to back that up?


Those people who are immune to humiliation have a strongly bolstered ego - exactly. If you take away a few of their props (maybe they lose their house or wife or job), suddenly they are very vulnerable to humiliation and other threats to the self-concept. And I agree with you about teachers - in general, teachers would rank amongst the most self-esteem challenged of all professions, along with psychologists and spiritual aspirants. I think Tommy would make a good psychologist or teacher. He reeks of it.

You do not think that humiliation as the self being shrunk? Where do you think the phrases "I felt 10 feet tall" or "I felt like I didn't exist" or "I felt this (small) big". Come on, please.

Prolific wasn't mentioned. I'll tell you why. People don't go there. They skirt around the issue, they pretend they are somewhere they are not, just like 99% of people in here.

Bruno - I don't believe a word you say. Sorry. Just the other day you told us that you went out to a bar, and the whole time you were stressing over losing 50cents, or some girl you used to have a crush on! And then you were stressing over stressing about it, beating yourself up. You can call that successful living if you want, but it's pathological. Most average Joes (non-spiritual people) wouldn't think twice about such matters, honestly. They'd simply be enjoying the game of pool or the company.

Can people please get real on this forum?

Will post a practice diary following my next sit. Cheers for the advice, this post makes much more sense to me.

RE: A conflict between goals of the world and goals of meditation: Identity
Answer
8/2/11 4:34 AM as a reply to This Good Self.
C C C:

You do not think that humiliation as the self being shrunk? Where do you think the phrases "I felt 10 feet tall" or "I felt like I didn't exist" or "I felt this (small) big". Come on, please.


First, are you saying that the existence of phrasal expressions provide this kind of explicit proof as to the working of psychology?

Second, it seems like this concept of "self" is actually more "how-good-you-feel-about-yourself". I think that the "self" in terms of meditation is broader than this... and actually how good or bad or metaphorically "big" you feel is unrelated to how strong or weak that "self" is. You can feel like shit and be completely humiliated but still have a strong sense of self, no?

Prolific wasn't mentioned. I'll tell you why. People don't go there. They skirt around the issue, they pretend they are somewhere they are not, just like 99% of people in here.


Personal judgements about this forum aside, if you're just saying that people often consider suicide... isn't that true of normal people anyway? I spoke to a therapist about 8 years ago who told me that every single person she did therapy with had told her they had considered suicide, she said the unfortunate fact was that people didn't realise how normal this was. She was the duty therapist at my University... hardly a group you'd expect to have above the grade numbers of suicides.

When it comes to psychology, I don't think explicit proof of anything is possible. Those common sayings are good enough for me. Everyone relates to them because they feel true. You say "I felt 10 feet tall" and inside it's like "yes I actually felt bigger somehow, isn't that odd?"

Rich says: "You can feel like shit and be completely humiliated but still have a strong sense of self, no?" I'd disagree. A strong sense of self always feels good, comfortable, warm, happy. Those moments of feeling like shit are the moments you're getting close to something useful. Most people resist that, however, and battle to re-establish the self.


Rich says: "Personal judgements about this forum aside, if you're just saying that people often consider suicide... isn't that true of normal people anyway?" I suppose it is. I wouldn't know the statistics. Spiritual aspirants aren't special people, they are the same as everyone else. The special ones are those who seek out the truth, willingly seeking a fear so strong that it might trigger such impulses. Whether they progress to insight or not depends on whether they resist the fear or surrender to it.

RE: A conflict between goals of the world and goals of meditation: Identity
Answer
8/2/11 5:22 AM as a reply to This Good Self.
C C C:
Bruno - I don't believe a word you say. Sorry. Just the other day you told us that you went out to a bar, and the whole time you were stressing over losing 50cents, or some girl you used to have a crush on! And then you were stressing over stressing about it, beating yourself up. You can call that successful living if you want, but it's pathological. Most average Joes (non-spiritual people) wouldn't think twice about such matters, honestly. They'd simply be enjoying the game of pool or the company.


All of your arguments involve some notion of "average joe" or "successful joe" that only seems to exist in your imagination.

For instance: you write
CCC:

Most average Joes (non-spiritual people) wouldn't think twice about [loosing 50cents or some girl they used to have a crush on].


But if you are talking about romantic passions, well every other music is about love, many conversation are about boyfriends and girlfriends and betrayals and break ups and so on... Furthermore average and successful Joe's get irritated over petty things much more often than I do (I've had tons of experiential evidence of this). Difference is that due to meditation practice, I can't seem to avoid noticing these things, I can't "distract myself".

If you don't consider what I say might actually be true, then of course you save yourself the trouble to question your own very silly beliefs (who are these average joes, and how well do you really know them?). The proof is in the pudding.

RE: A conflict between goals of the world and goals of meditation: Identity
Answer
8/2/11 9:06 AM as a reply to This Good Self.
C C C:
Rich says: "You can feel like shit and be completely humiliated but still have a strong sense of self, no?" I'd disagree. A strong sense of self always feels good, comfortable, warm, happy. Those moments of feeling like shit are the moments you're getting close to something useful. Most people resist that, however, and battle to re-establish the self.


feeling intensely of any emotion points to a strong self. strong reaction indicates strong self. by strong i mean: very present, very influential, very sticky, very high momentum, very clingy/averse, etc...

you seem to use strong as: self-assured, confident, and weak as: vulnerable. letting the self slowly fade away to reveal perfection has nothing to do with becoming vulnerable. feeling like shit instead of feeling good, comfortable, warm, or happy, is just replacing one strong self for another, and is not really a step in the right direction. hating (aversion to) yourself is just as much an attachment as loving (clinging to) yourself.

what to do then? like yourself, no matter what... as that will allow you to be honest (sincere) with yourself... which will allow naivete to unfold... which will really allow you to figure out what's what and drop attachments left + right as you see for yourself that they are no longer necessary

RE: A conflict between goals of the world and goals of meditation: Identity
Answer
8/2/11 9:16 AM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
Spot on Beo.

CCC on the pragmatic side, perhaps you could test your humiliation theory over a period of time (changing contexts frequently so as to avoid desensitising yourself to repeat situations) and see if you enter the stream or progress from where you are? that way you might get a better idea of whether this 'shrunk self' is actually 'humbled, embarrassed, immediately compelled to conform in order to feel good again self' or genuinely reduced sense of self.

Otherwise it seems it is just fluff